The Hunger Prime Badge

It’s the 20th most important thing about the book or the interviews. But everything that comes out about these Trump-Woodward interviews, details and news notwithstanding, communicates an almost limitless personal insecurity and need for validation and acceptance. See here. It’s hardly surprising. It’s the flip side of his grievance politics. I certainly don’t feel sorry for Donald Trump – he deserves every bad thing that comes to him. But I don’t think it would be any fun being Donald Trump.

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The Attorney General’s Got The President’s Back Prime Badge
This Week in the Swamp: A weekly dive into the muck of the Trump administration.
Where Things Stand: Pat Robertson Is Not Happy With Trump Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

The former Republican presidential candidate and longtime Christian Broadcasting Network host’s ire is not aimed at President Trump ghastly admission that he intentionally downplayed the severity of COVID-19 even though he was aware of it’s deadliness. He’s upset he offered up his iniquities freely to the press. Specifically, to the famous Bob Woodward.

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Rudy Exposed in New Russian Election Interference Operation Prime Badge

And there it is yet again. The President’s personal lawyer and apparent bag man Rudy Giuliani has been exposed as an active participant in yet another Russian intelligence operation aimed at supporting President Trump’s reelection campaign. The details of the story — and Giuliani’s work with Andrii Derkach — have been something of an open secret, especially if you’ve been reading Josh’s on-going reporting. But Derkach has now been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as an “active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.”

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Where Things Stand: He’s Gonna Wing It Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.
WINSTON SALEM, NC - SEPTEMBER 08: President Donald Trump addresses a crowd during a campaign rally at Smith Reynolds Airport on September 8, 2020 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The president also made a campaign stop in South Florida on Tuesday. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

President Trump is reportedly banking on a fever swamp perception of former Vice President Joe Biden’s mental acuity — which has been the subject of baseless rumors perpetuated not only by the right, but also, apparently, by Russian propaganda — to guide him through the debates in coming weeks.

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Michael Headfaked Me! Prime Badge

I failed. I was fooled. He pulled one over on me. I admit it and hang my head in shame. Last week I noted the demonstrable reality that Michael Cohen squeezed the Falwells for Jerry Falwell’s critical January 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump because he and Trump had photographs and documents that revealed that the ultimate power couple of rightwing evangelical Christianity were committed swingers and part of the so-called ‘cuckold lifestyle’. But Cohen continued to deny it, even with a soon to launch “tell all” memoir. I said he was likely still holding out because of continuing criminal liability for blackmail and extortion.

But I had it totally wrong.

Cohen was lying. But not to stay ahead of the law. He was lying in the interests of book promotion. He wasn’t going to wrongfoot his book roll out. I’m not sure whether this is more virtuous or proper. But it’s definitely more on brand. So I salute him.

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Where Things Stand: Can The GOP Get It Together On A COVID Relief Bill? Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

TPM reporter Kate Riga has been following all of Congress’ failed attempts to pass any type of COVID-19 relief bill for the last several weeks. But even with the Senate back in session, there doesn’t appear to be a clear end in sight.

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Follow the Money … Prime Badge

Bloomberg News this morning floats the doubly absurd idea that President Trump is weighing the possibility of putting $100 million of his own money into his campaign. On its face this seems absurd. Trump had to be dragged kicking and screaming to put half that amount into his campaign in 2016 when the campaign’s need for money was far, far greater. (We don’t even know if Trump has that scale of liquid assets available.) But the bigger question is, why does his campaign even need him to pump in his own money?

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Are We In A Lull? Prime Badge

This article in the Post talks to a number of epidemiologists who say we’re on the cusp of what may be the worst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The article is based in significant measure on a new model from the IHME modelers at the University of Washington. They don’t have a perfect record. So I don’t think we should see this as consensus opinion or what “the science” says. But it’s worth taking note of as at least one quite dire outlook.

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Concerns Over Census’ Rushed Count Temporarily Soothed Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box
Vials used by pharmacists to prepare syringes used on the first day of a first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, rest on a lab table at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle on Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Keep An Eye On This Prime Badge
Where Things Stand: It’s A Little Too Optimistic To Ask John Kelly To Clear The Air Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

As President Trump and the White House collectively go after the Atlantic for its recent report on Trump’s remarks about the late-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and fallen American soldiers, pundits and journalists across the spectrum are suggesting there’s one person who could easily set the record straight: John Kelly.

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The Endorsement Extortion Stays Under Wraps Prime Badge
LYNCHBURG, VA - MAY 13:  U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Jerry Falwell (R), President of Liberty University, on stage during a commencement at Liberty University May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia. President Trump is the first sitting president to speak at LibertyÕs commencement since George H.W. Bush spoke in 1990.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

I wanted to update you on some new news on the Falwell/Trump 2016 endorsement scandal. Since we last checked in on this story another Liberty University student has come forward to say that Becki Falwell pursued him sexually. But it’s the Michael Cohen part of this story that remains the really newsworthy part.

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Where Things Stand: These Two Headlines Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

This morning we published two pieces with starkly disturbing headlines within about thirty minutes of each other.

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Let’s Talk About the Fretfest Prime Badge

In this week’s edition of The Josh Marshall Podcast we discuss the Democratic fretfest and barreling toward election day. Watch after the jump …

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Trump Losing on ‘Law and Order’ Prime Badge

It’s easy to get lost in the big muddy river of polling data and headlines. But before we get further into the day I wanted to discuss a new group of polls that came out yesterday. This was the first batch of quality polls entirely after the GOP convention. The upshot of really all of them is that “law and order” is not only not helping Trump cut into Biden’s lead. Trump appears to be losing that debate on its own terms. When pollsters ask voters which candidate they trust more to handle civil unrest, protests or crime, they’re picking Biden.

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Grifters All the Way Down Prime Badge

This post may take a few deep breaths because it’s hard to have any sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse. But it’s not about sympathy. TPM Reader BG raises some important legal points – a couple of which had occurred to me as well – about his legal representation. I’ll note as a separate or related matter that Rittenhouse is being represented by a couple of wingnut hucksters, one of whom, Lin Wood, is the celeb right wing lawyer who’s been filing nuisance lawsuits against myriad news organizations on behalf of Nicholas Sandman. From BG

Rittenhouse is 17, which means he can be a child in need of assistance (CINA) in most states.

He will also be charged as an adult, almost certainly.

Three points:

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He’ll Keep Doubling Down Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JB, a physician and professor at a major academic medical center …

I think we now know what the October surprise will be for the election: It will be the rolling out of a COVID19 vaccine. The CDC has already said that states should prepare for distribution in October/November and the head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, has said he may Fast Track approval for a vaccine.

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Where Things Stand: He Can’t Stop Politicizing A Tragedy Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

They couldn’t even find a willing participant. So they replaced a shop owner with someone who’d be happy to play his game.

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The Psychology of Winning Prime Badge

TPM Reader SD has a reply to my post about the psychology and ideational worlds of Republican and Democratic partisans …

I think your post on the jitters of Democrats understates the really dramatic role consistent winning of elections can bring to the psyche of your average Democratic voter. It has been 52 years since 1968, and in those 52 years, the Republicans were really in the ascendancy for more than half of the period and then in the last 20 years the two sides have had an uneasy, unsteady equilibrium with each side gaining temporary advantages (and with Republicans doing a better job than Democrats at preserving or entrenching their otherwise temporary gains). Almost no Democrat under the age of about 70 (someone who would have been 10 years old in 1960) remembers a time where the Democrats had super majorities in the Senate and House while also holding the Presidency. Democrats who were 40 years old in 1960 would have essentially conceived of themselves as being a member of the dominant political party, accustomed to running the country and seeing the government reflect their values, because it is all they would have known in their lifetimes. Even a Republican holding the Presidency as Eisenhower did from 1953-1961 did not revisit the changes wrought by the New Deal. Instead, he could probably be more properly seen as a person of the other party holding the office in an era of the other party’s dominance. I think of Bill Clinton’s Presidency in similar terms.

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Where Things Stand: Why Is Trump Tweeting About Mini-Strokes? Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

My roommate just asked me this question. There’s not a solid answer, but it’s related to news out of New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt’s forthcoming book, which was obtained by CNN.

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Accountability Should Be on The Ballot. Now. Prime Badge

The President continues his policy promoting a maximal climate of violence and instability in the hopes that fear, uncertainty and demoralization will give him another term in power. He continues his tacit embrace of Kyle Rittenhouse, the self-styled 17 year old ‘militia’ member who gunned down two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. This morning NBC reports that Rittenhouse’s lawyer will argue that his client was part of a “well-regulated” militia and that at least the weapons charges against him are unconstitutional. That argument seems unlikely to succeed. But it is another sign of how the brazen murders of two civilians are being embraced as a new cause celebre on the right.

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Time To Cancel The ‘Cancel Culture’ Handwringing Driving The GOP’s 2020 Strategy Prime Badge
Conservatives define cancel culture as a weapon brandished by left-wing ‘woketopians’ who are hell-bent on destroying the lives of those who fail to adhere to the rules of social justice. But in reality, right-wingers are weaponizing a movement they don’t understand.
Where Things Stand: Trump Campaign Seeks To Cast Unrest As A Campaign Issue Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

The White House is going after former Veep Joe Biden for not traveling to Kenosha, Wisconsin, unlike President Trump who “shows up.”

The only issue? The governor of Wisconsin has politely asked Trump to actually … not show up.

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Fights Over Mail Ballot Drop Boxes Grow Across The Country Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
Why Are Dems Nervous? Because They’re Dems. Prime Badge

We are now waiting to see the upshot or impact, if any, of the two successive national party conventions. The general consensus was that the Democrats did very well. Then last week – at least as I was hearing it – many seemed to think that the Republican convention was more effective than Democrats anticipated. Suddenly the tide seemed to shift. I felt some of this myself. I have no idea which of these is true. But I can offer one observation that I’m pretty certain is accurate. It’s born of years of experience watching elections.

Regardless of the objective realities, Democrats will consistently anticipate loss or worry about loss while Republicans will consistently be confident of victory. This is a good rule of thumb regardless of the objective realities of the moment, to the degree they can be known. This is not an absolute of course: overwhelming odds will buoy Democrats and hopeless situations will nudge Republicans to despair. But in general this is almost an iron law of political psychology in the United States.

This may be obscured by the genuine shock and horror Democrats experienced on election night four years ago. Democrats were pretty confident and all their worst fears were realized. But a closer look shows the general pattern was actually in effect through much of the 2016 cycle. Indeed we saw a particular example of it during the 2018 midterm election. The fall of 2018 was chock full of theories and predictions about how two years of ‘resistance’ activism were coming up short. It was the ‘caravan’. It was Trump’s 12 dimensional chess. It was low turnout among young voters. So pervasive were Democrats’ latent fears of coming up short that they actually persisted well into election night and even the first couple days after the election – until late returns, results of close call races and just the actual numbers made clear Democrats had won a decisive victory.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Touts ‘Succes’ In Kenosha Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

While there were scant references to the shooting of Jacob Blake during the last night of the RNC Thursday, President Trump tweeted about the “succes” scene in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Friday morning. (No, that is not a typo on my part, but his).

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